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We Notice Our Heavy Breathing When It Is 4-5 Times the Norm

Avatar of Dr Artour Rakhimov, Buteyko Breathing Practitioner and Master TrainerBy Dr. Artour Rakhimov, Alternative Health Educator and Author
- Medically Reviewed by Naziliya Rakhimova, MD
- Last updated on August 9, 2018

Brain with electrical signals Usually, people notice that their breathing is heavy when they breathe more than 25 L/min at rest (or about 4 times more than the physiological norm). Why is this? First, there are cultural or social reasons related to the modern perception of breathing. Since most people believe in various breathing myths, especially the deep breathing myth, they naturally assume, for example, during times of stress that breathing heavily or deep breathing provides them with more oxygen while oxygen is very important for health and wellbeing. Hence, instead of being alarmed by their heavy breathing triggered by whatever reasons, many people even "help" their breathing to be deeper and faster, while others never learned or were taught that healthy breathing should be very light and slow. They simply "let it go" in all types of abnormal situations (lifestyle risk factors), like overeating, sleeping on one's back, breathing through the mouth, slouching, overheating or abnormal heat exchange, and many others.

For the same reasons, mouth breathing, for example, also became common, socially acceptable and even popular, among cover photo girls, about 20-30 years ago. Many decades ago, the reactions of people to mouth breathing were very different. The common definition of the phrase "mouth breather" is, according to Urban and old Oxford dictionaries are "moron, stupid person, imbecile". In the past, most people would (correctly) decide that something horribly wrong took place with the mouth breather. This is surely an example of breathing too heavily.

CloudsAnother reason for our poor awareness of our breathing relates to the mechanics of breathing. Air is weightless, and breathing muscles are powerful. During rigorous physical exercise, we can breathe up to 100-150 l/min. Some athletes can breathe up to 200 l/min. So it is easy to breathe "only" 10-15 l/min at rest (or about 10% of our maximum capacity), throughout the day and night and not be aware of this rate of breathing. However, in health, we should breathe only about 3-4% of our maximum breathing rate. When people have normal breathing, they have nearly no perception or awareness because normal breathing is so small in tidal volume (500 ml) and very slow in its respiratory frequency (only 10-12 breaths/min).

It is nevertheless normal during rigorous exercise to breathe, 50 or more l/min since, while exercising, CO2 and O2 concentrations in the arterial blood can remain nearly the same as at rest.

How one can check changes in own breathing rate

It is not easy to notice changes in breathing even for many advanced breathing students. The solution for this challenge is the CP or body oxygenation test (stress-free breath-holding time after usual exhalation) that provides an accurate assessment of one's breathing for over 95% of people. [There is only a small group of people with panic, anxiety, migraines, and hypertension who should temporarily avoid this stress-free test due to unpleasant symptoms and stress that can appear after the test and present for many hours or minutes afterward. They can control their health progress using their heart rate.]

Hence, if your breathing rate (or minute volume) at rest slightly increases due to risk lifestyle factors, your CP will be the most accurate measurement tool to notice the change. It is an indispensable test to check your breathing changes in the morning (immediately after waking up), for nutritional deficiencies, physical exercise (next morning CP), overeating, and many other situations.

Conclusion: The CP is an accurate test that will help you to notice even slight changes in your breathing. Use it, if it is safe for you, in all type of situations to monitor how your organism reacts to environmental and other changes.

Do you know that for over 90% of people heavy breathing takes place during the same part of the day? And this is exactly the same part of the day when severely sick people experience chances of acute attacks (exacerbations) and even highest mortality due to these attacks? You can find more details about this part of the day (with many clinical references) right below here, as your bonus content.

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